Food & Drink

Pennypinching food bloggers: How low can they go?

Photo courtesy of Being Cheap Never Tasted So Good.
Peach and chocolate dessert, photo courtesy of Being Cheap Never Tasted So Good.

Food-stunt blogs aren’t altogether new to Brooklyn—in 2006, Crown Heights resident Cathy Erway decided to go AWOL from restaurants and takeout for two years, and launched Not Eating Out in New York, which extolls the many health and eco benefits of home-cooking along with perks like the ability to eat dinner topless. But lately we’ve been noticing that the downturn has spawned a genre of blogs by obsessively frugal foodies (we call them brokavores around here), chronicling their attempts to stick to severe budget restrictions.

Compared to some of the others, Monique Peterson’s $50-a-week food budget seems lavish. After finding herself unemployed in July 2008, the Park Sloper started Being Cheap Never Tasted So Good to document the syrupy sweet highs and burnt-toast lows of pennypinching. Read her blog at length (posts have been a bit thin in the past few weeks, owing to… life, but she’s preparing a new entry as we speak), and you’ll notice a special affinity for muffins, scones, breads and baked goods in general. She admits the results aren’t always tasty (see  Strawberry Disaster Corn Loaf). Most of her dishes call for cheap ingredients like cornmeal, flour and sugar, making periodic splurges more feasible (she does enjoy scallops). 

Hot dog ragout, courtesy of 30 Bucks a Week.
Hot dog ragout, courtesy of 30 Bucks a Week.

In the self-explanatory 30 Bucks a Week, authors Tina and Phil out-cheap Peterson—though they do allow the occasional meal out. Of course, the couple’s vegetarianism doesn’t hurt, nor does their membership at the Park Slope Food Coop, and they’ve been known to take “creative” to an extreme (see Polenta alla Refrigerator: spoiling avocado, veggie turkey, polenta, squash, a bit more). A tribute to their thriftiness, Tina and Phil don’t even reach the $30 mark some weeks, and they’ll roll over the rest to the next week (is this commendable or crazy?) The result? They say good. We say… we’ll take their word for it. But the Crepes With Apple Butter and Pears look divine.

Then there’s NYC Recession Diary whose 20-something Williamsburg author Katharine has just pledged to spend only $75 on food for the month of October. That’s $2.40 a day, which she says she’ll achieve by depleting her pantry of pasta and rice and her freezer of Hot Pockets. Katharine has dubbed the endeavor “Frutober” (frugal+October), and she’ll also be cutting out taxis, shopping and movies. Though she’s been blogging about inexpensive fun in the city for two years, Katharine admits that she never really saves any money (could be the taxis there, Katharine). Plus, she’s hoping to lose five to eight pounds. That’s one way.

For competitive types who can’t read this post without wanting to best these folks, Metafilter has an amusing discussion on the cheapest possible diet one could survive on. Be warned, however, that wheat, honey, salt and powdered milk doesn’t photograph too  well.


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